YAY OR NAY?
Actually, it’s pretty cool that athletes and movie stars get tattooed. After all, their tattoos tell the general public that being inked is okay. That means a lot less hassles for the dyed-in-the-wool tattoo aficionado, but does the fact that these high-profile folks usually get second-rate or too small or faddish tattoos (lots of lettering, poems and such, lately) set a bad example? Since most of the population isn’t aware of how truly magnificent tattoos can be, their choices (the celebs) rarely reflect the state of the art. Here’s some familiar folks and their ink. What do you think? We’d love to hear your comments.
I got this email from Kevin. Don’t know if you heard.
Regards, Bill DeMichele
FROM MAURY ENGLANDER (New York City, USA) Graven Images
As per attached: Maury pictured here recently while photographing the annual pilgrimage of The Good Sisters of St. Harley. Usually a cloistered order, the Sisters are quite shy and are rarely photographed, and never by men. Maury was honored as being the first man admitted into their midst. That might explain the smile. His smile, anyway.
Hello from Ink & Dagger! I’m writing to share with you this awesome new video that we’ve just released! In May of 2010, Adam Machin, a tattooer from the UK traveled across the pond to be tattooed by Russ Abbott. Over three days, Russ completed a full arm sleeve for a total of 24 hrs of sitting time. The video (http://www.vimeo.com/18984844) shows the process from beginning to delirious end. Your blog is amazing and all of us here at the shop are big fans of your work. It would be such an honour if you’d be willing to share this video with your readers. Thank you so much!
Ink & Dagger Tattoo Parlour
TATTOOS CONQUER MODERN ART
AS NEEDLES AND INK REPLACE BRUSHES
Once the mark of sailors and bikers, body art is now sought after by the fashion-hungry
By Paul Harris/The Observer/Guardian.co.uk
Like other top artists, Thomas Hooper has a signature style and can charge thousands of dollars for his best pieces. His name is known around the world and clients go to great lengths to seek him out for his vision, immense skill and keen sense of artistic purpose.
But Hooper, 31, born in Bexhill-on-Sea and now the toast of New York neither a sculptor nor a painter, but a tattoo artist. For many, the difference between fine art and the cutting edge of modern tattooing has now virtually disappeared. “A lot of my work is to do with our own mortality and what could be called our souls,” Hooper told the Observer as he sat in his studio, New York Adorned, where rock star Lenny Kravitz and DJ Samantha Ronson have been inked.
Hooper is a key figure in a burgeoning scene, a long way from the stereotype of tattooing as the preserve of sailors and soldiers (though tattoos were once popular with Victorian aristocrats and even, it was rumoured, the royal family). It is also a long way from middle-class professionals asking for Chinese characters or butterflies to be inked on their backs.
Now many tattoo artists have the coveted initials MFA – Master of Fine Arts – after their names and have studied in respected art schools. They have waiting lists up to two years long, and clients often have to persuade the artist of their own commitment and vision.
Hooper has a waiting list of six months. Sometimes clients seek him out and offer him their skin as a blank canvas, something he always declines as he prefers some client input. But he does understand that the reason people want a “Hooper” on their bodies is partly the same as a collector shelling out money for a David Hockney painting. Hooper has a style of his own that earns both recognition and value. “My goal as an artist, and as a businessman, is that I want someone to see a tattoo and, if it is done by me, to know that it is mine,” Hooper said.
He is not alone. Many major cities have tattoo artists with huge followings. In New York, Anil Gupta is reported to charge up to $400 an hour. Another Briton living in America, Steve Byrne, also has people seeking him out. “At least half of the people I tattoo have travelled to find me, or caught me at a convention in their area,” Byrne said.
Tattoo conventions are commonplace now. More surprisingly, so are art gallery exhibits featuring tattoo artists and their skin work. Last year, Vancouver held an exhibition of tattoo art, as did the Noyes Museum of Art in New Jersey, the Arts Center@319 in Virginia and even the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Just as the modern art movement is fractured, so, too, is the tattooing scene. On the one hand, there are auteurs such as Hooper and Gupta. On the other, there are the tattooing equivalent of Damien Hirst, big on flashness and publicity, who can make millions from their work. Perhaps the most famous is Mario Barth, who charged $150,000 for five hours’ work tattooing rock star Tommy Lee.
Hooper is dismissive of the publicity around such artists, but recognises their talent. “One of the reasons they are on TV is that they are very good,” he said.
There are, of course, reasons why tattooing is different from other fine arts. First is the medium: human skin. Then there is the fact that a tattoo, unlike a painting or sculpture, cannot be sold on. “To a degree, the fine art world has jumped on it. But a tattoo has no resale value. That is crucial,” said London-based tattoo artist Alex Binnie.
Defenders of tattooing as fine art would point out, however, that many masterpieces were created by artists operating under the instructions of patrons or clients. Hooper sees his work as an amalgam of his vision and his clients’ wishes. “The clients that get the best work are the ones that enjoy me and I enjoy them,” he said.
FINISHING MY DARUMA
My wife, who is not a fan of ink-clad bodies, but accepted (with much reluctance) my desire to get a tattoo ten years ago, recently requested that, once my current “in progress” tattoo is completed, I not get anymore. She asks for very little from me but, in return, keeps our household and family wrapped with love and in check like a well cared for machine, so who am I to challenge this request? After all, I can try to suppress my appetite through books, magazines and blogs… or so I hope.
This upcoming week will mark the last session with my tattooist, and the bittersweet sensation is already present both in my mouth and gut. I look forward to seeing the completion of the past years’ many sittings coming together. I look forward to seeing my Daruma spring to life with color, and I look forward to witnessing the expression on my tattooist’s face when I present him with a Horiyoshi III book that I purchased for him as a final gratuity, as an offering of appreciation for the lifelong artwork he has etched into my skin.
But what I can’t seem to shake is the awful feeling of going there, knowing that I may never find myself on the receiving end of the needle again. As with other tattoo enthusiasts; I completely enjoy everything about tattoos, from the anticipation of planning and beginning a new piece to the prep of each session, to the “at times” eye-wincing pain, to the proud showing of my latest piece of work. This will be missed greatly as will the therapy of the tattoo sessions themselves. I can’t think of any other activity (besides adult intimacy) where the time devoted is completely and utterly all about oneself. After all, no one else is feeling the scraping of the needles across the skin. It’s all about you at that moment, and I think that’s one the reasons tattoos become addictive. How often do any of us truly have “me” time in our busy lives?
In an effort to satisfy the void left behind I will have to comfort myself by wearing sleeveless shirts for the unforeseeable future, to expose the two almost half-sleeves I wear daily as a reminder of my personal journey (albeit brief by many standards) into the world of tattoos. I wouldn’t change a thing about my decision to become a member of the marked. It has opened my eyes and mind in ways I never imagined. For this I am forever grateful.
KAT & JESSE
People magazine just announced that Kat Von D-saster and Jesse James are ENGAGED! Something about their being thrilled to spend the rest of their lives with their “best friend” and how life is going to be “an F-ing blast.”
This storybook news is right up there with the fact that the Portland zoo has added another Orangutan to the Monkey House.
January 15, 1929—April 4, 1968
I photographed Dr. King speaking in front of the United Nation at an anti-war rally on April 6, 1967. Over 100,000 people marched from Central Park to the UN. Dr. King marched at the head of the line, next to Dr. Spock, and he was one of dozens who addressed the crowd that day. Pete Seeger sang. It started raining in the afternoon, but people continued to fill the plaza. It was a day to remember. That was then. Last week I heard a radio ad promoting a store’s “Annual MLK Weekend Sale.” I wonder what tomorrow will bring.
Here’s the latest from Riley Baxter, his tattoos and his music. His shop is Pussykat Tattoo Parlor in Lost Wagas, Nevada. He is also my son, one of them. I have three who tattoo, but Riley is the rocker, songwriter and front man for a band, Kings of Rock. Click to listen their latest tunes, “With His Hands” and “Morning Comes Again.”
As their website says: “Riley is Pussykat’s resident ‘rock star.’ Two decades in the business and this ‘Hollywood brat’ shows no signs of slowing down. Unparalleled Japanese and any other style you may need.